1 Jun 2011 5 Comments
“…it is not a project with a deadline, it is our never-ending quest to explore better ways to deliver the formal published record.” — IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Vice President Content Innovation, S&T Journals With the rapid advance of new technology, publishers have been required to think creatively about the way they provide communications to the scientific [...]
“...it is not a project with a deadline, it is our never-ending quest to explore better ways to deliver the formal published record." — IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Vice President Content Innovation, S&T Journals
With the rapid advance of new technology, publishers have been required to think creatively about the way they provide communications to the scientific community.
But while the transition from print to online has been relatively smooth, the content of scientific articles, and the way they are presented, still follows a tried and tested formula laid down almost 350 years ago.
According to Marie Sheehan, Head of Communications for Innovation and Product Development, S&T Journals, this is a missed opportunity, and one that Elsevier is keen to address with its innovative ‘Article of the Future’ project.
The project aims to break away from the traditional ‘abstract, findings, conclusion, references’ format, and to radically transform the ‘reader experience’. The latest milestone in this ongoing project is the introduction of the ‘three-pane’ version of the article, prototypes of which will be unveiled in June this year at www.articleofthefuture.com.
While the prototypes featured on the website relate to seven specific scientific disciplines, the concept will apply to all journals and visitors will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the new content and layout, before being invited to take part in a short online survey.
Sheehan says: “We really hope people will take the time to let us know what they think – we want to collect input from a broad range of disciplines to ensure we are meeting authors’ and editors’ needs, and to address those in future releases.”
Commenting on the project, Sheehan adds: “The first thing to make clear is that this is not a new Elsevier product, it is not a ‘thing’. Article of the Future is a process, a journey we are on to change the scientific article with regard to three key areas: content, context and presentation."
IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Vice President Content Innovation, S&T Journals, explains: “As an author you want your work to be propelled, you want it to receive maximum exposure. And the more value your paper offers, the more it is seen, the more it is cited and that has a knock-on effect not only for the author, but also for the journal and the editorial board, as well as for the author’s institute.
“With Article of the Future we want to provide the best possible place to expose and explore research. But it is not a project with a deadline, it is our never-ending quest to explore better ways to deliver the formal published record. It is an ongoing journey with milestones, collaborations, results and ideas.”
One of those collaborations has taken the form of a partnership with 150 researchers from a range of disciplines who have been consulted each step of the way during the project’s process, via user interviews, behavior studies and tests. Together with Elsevier, they have focused on three main areas: content, context, and presentation.
Authors can now add their own discipline-specific and rich content such as interactive plots, chemical compounds, or interactive maps. Furthermore, new possibilities such as graphical abstracts and research highlights will enable users to more efficiently skim articles.
The context element offers authors opportunities to add a range of valuable connections to the published article, for example related research data sets, author information and research groups. Commonly used entities in the article can also be tagged and linked to databases, e.g. Genbank and Protein Data Bank, and context can also be pulled from these databases into the articles.
While many of the new content and context features will apply to all journals, others will be domain-specific.
Sheehan explains: “For example, Google maps (an application that enriches an article with research data visualized on an interactive map) has already been added to earth sciences, life sciences and social sciences journals and can be rolled out to other journals as needed.”
Presentation looks at the ‘readability’ of the article and aims to surpass the current HTML and traditional PDF with new content elements and better navigation.
Sheehan says: “One clear message we received during the partnership process was that researchers do want all the domain-specific bells and whistles that technology can add to a scientific paper, but they also want to simply focus on the message in that paper, which led us to a very clean reading pane in the middle of the three-pane view.”
The left pane will contain navigation options enabling quicker exploration of the article, while the right pane will allow for new article content elements and context exploration beyond the paper.
Aalbersberg adds: “As the three-pane design separates navigation and extensions from the core article, it minimizes distraction and unobtrusively and intuitively connects the clean reading with the new content and context.”
As with many findings uncovered by the Article of the Future project, the three-pane view will be released on SciVerse ScienceDirect. Please take a few moments to view the prototypes at www.articleofthefuture.com and complete the short online questionnaire.
Have you seen the Article of the Future? If so, we'd love to hear your views via our comment function at the bottom of this page.
HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS
Marie is Head of Communications for the Innovation and Product Development department in Elsevier’s S&T Journals division. Since joining Elsevier in 2002, she has held various marketing and communications positions in the publishing organization.
- Issue 29 - March 2010: Graphical abstracts: a new way of summarising journal articles
- Issue 28 - November 2009: Experience the ‘Article of the future’
- Issue 26 - May 2009: Scientific investment